Why Romney Would Defeat Obama in 2012

mitt romneyPresident Barack Obama has not earned a second term. His presidency has failed, and the weaknesses he has exhibited since taking office – surrendering to Tea Party economics, refusing to fight for what he says he believes, scorning input from his base, to name just a few – have gotten worse. Obama has reversed the once bright hopes for his presidency, and lost the nation’s confidence in his leadership. This creates a great opportunity for Republicans to win the presidency in 2012 – if they nominate Mitt Romney.

Fortunately for Obama, this is unlikely. While Romney’s candidacy would make the 2012 campaign about Obama’s failures rather than his own, he faces an uphill struggle against both Rick Perry and Michelle Bachmann. Neither can beat Obama, but both are more in tune with Republican voters than the former Massachusetts Governor who backed a health care law similar to what the Tea Party derides as “Obamacare.” Expect a Perry-Bachmann ticket in 2012.

Denying Romney’s Nomination

It was widely reported last week that Obama’s campaign team is trying to identify Mitt Romney as “weird,” with David Axelrod taking political hi-jinks to a new level by responding to the controversy by threatening to “fire” any staffer who makes such a comment. Which, of course, ensures that the juxtaposition of “Romney” and “weird” further echoes through the news cycle.

Obama is borrowing from the 2002 playbook of California Governor Gray Davis, who ran attacks against Republican Richard Riordan (then mayor of Los Angeles) during the GOP’s primary campaign for Governor. Davis (correctly) feared he would lose to Riordan in the general election, and his strategy successfully led to Riordan’s primary loss to conservative Bill Simon, who Davis beat to win re-election.

The Obama camp knows that it cannot win with a sagging economy and disillusioned electorate unless it scares people about the President’s opponent. And for all of his alleged “weirdness,” Mitt Romney is just not scary enough to sway voters to Obama in 2012.

Fortunately for Obama, his campaign will not have to invest much to undermine Romney’s candidacy. Republican voters will do that on their own.

A Perry-Bachmann “Dream” Ticket

I wrote in June that you could tell Republicans were “giving a pass” to Obama in 2012 because none of their presidential candidates were from a large state. In fact, no Republican has been first elected President from a small state since Indiana’s Benjamin Harrison in 1888.

Obama’s bungling of the debt-ceiling negotiations brought Texas Governor Rick Perry into the race, and he is now the favorite. If I had to bet today on the 2012 GOP ticket, it would be Perry-Bachmann – achieving the unique goal of representing a Dream Ticket for both parties.

Perry makes Romney look like a paragon of normality. But if Axelrod hears any Obama staffer calling the Texas Governor “weird,” they won’t simply be fired – they’ll be forever barred from Democratic Party politics.

With Perry the nominee, the race is about him, not Barack Obama. Which is a godsend for a President still avoiding action on creating jobs, and whose senior advisors were described in the August 14 New York Times as preferring “a pragmatic strategy of appealing to independent voters by advocating ideas that can pass Congress, even if they do not have much economic impact.” (emphasis added).

That’s right. Despite the growing economic crisis and steep unemployment, Barack Obama will stay the course – even if this ignores the needs of millions of his core supporters.

And if Mitt Romney were the nominee, he would be seen as the candidate for change against Obama’s defense of the status quo. As absurd as this sounds, that’s the position Obama has created after less than three years in office.

Romney’s Nomination Problem

Romney’s problem getting the presidential nomination goes beyond his stuffed shirt image, fabled car trip with a dog strapped to the roof, or the many other reported stories that bolster depictions of him as “weird.” He’s not trusted by movement conservatives, and even the moderate Republican pundit class is down on him.

For example, Ross Douhat’s August 15 Times column agrees with my view of Obama’s vulnerability, calling him the “weakest incumbent since Jimmy Carter.” But Douhat criticizes Romney as a “born compromiser” whose “phoniness” would quickly be uncovered if elected. Douhat’s winnable choice is New Jersey’s Chris Christie, who is not in the race and who has too much political baggage to win.

randy shawFurther, Christie could only defeat Romney in primaries by taking conservative votes from Perry or Bachmann. That’s not going to happen.

For the Tea Party, nominating Perry and Bachmann would be like the Democrats nominating Populist William Jennings Bryan in 1896. The ticket won’t win, but it will be a fun ride that true believers will cherish regardless of the outcome.

Randy Shaw
Beyond Chron

Randy Shaw’s most recent book is Beyond the Fields: Cesar Chavez, the UFW and the Struggle for Justice in the 21st Century.


  1. Ray Bishop says

    This writer is way off base and fails to understand the big picture relating to our American Power Structure. Anyone other those on the Right who believe we should or would elect one of the Republican Candidates based on what they have said or have done needs their head examined.
    We are now suffering from the negligent leadership of Bush and his Right Wing Elitist. If you are a glutton for punishment and feel that the planet should exist to serve the greedy wealthy this author might be one to something.

    In November, 2008 the economy was in a free fall. At that time we were losing 800,000 jobs per month and the growth was close to 9% negative. President Bush threw up his hands after TARP and turned it over to President Elect Obama. He moved forward and kept the economy from going over the cliff. His recovery act did not get the full results he had hoped for but it was a chance of 1 in 4 to turn things around as Gene Sperling reported a from the Economic Club in Washington DC. We are now adding 1.3 million jobs per year and the growth rate is positive. It is not what had been hoped but at the same time it is not in the spiral it was in when Bush left. Also the Republicans have done everything they can to prevent the Economy from turning around before the elections in the hopes of winning control of the government. It was not enough that they ripped off the Country with Cheney/Bush and groups like Halliburton but now they want to go back and take what was built back since the President was elected.
    Don’t believe that Romney will win the election. President Obama has not exhibited a weakness we have permitted the Right to exhibit a strength by failing to deal with the Tea-Party Group who managed to spread enough BS to take the House. We don’t need anymore of it.

  2. Tamara Moore says

    @ Randy Shaw… speak for yourself when you say our president has lost the nation’s confidence since I’m part of this nation, and so many others who support him. It’s the extreme right wing who continue to cause the rest of us so much heartache by rejecting everthing that the president tries to do in an effort to get America back on track after the atrocities made by the Bush administration, and I for one am so sick and tired of it. It’s ridiculous and people need to give our president credit for all the things that he has done to change those bad policies.

  3. Peter Calvet says

    I am so tired of hearing how Obama is such a failure. It’s bad enough to hear it from the Fox News claque but hearing it from progressives is just too much. Kind of makes Phil Gramm’s point that we are a nation of whiners. He got himself in trouble at the time, but even though I don’t agree with him on most everything I think he was on to something. We are such spoiled brats, like kids on the playground who refuse to play with each other, hoarding their own toys.

    I have news for all my fellow progressives, the Presidency is a co-equal branch of government with the Congress. The Republicans (and now the Tea Partiers) have mastered the art of sabotage. They can’t get any of their agenda passed but they have learned the power of obstructionism.

    Democracy only works within a context of civility, which is why we have all those quaint customs in the Congress, where members refer to each other as the “Gentleman from Ohio” etc. Unfortunately we have a segment of our population that that is ignorant of history, democratic traditions, and behave as citizens of banana republics, where expediency is the law.

    I find it amusing that so many people mistake Barack Obama’s civility and poise as some sort of weakness. Nothing could be further from the truth. He fights tooth and nail for everything he has achieved. If we don’t like the result then we should elect more progressives and not expect him to turn “gangsta”. I know it would be very satisfying to hear him launch a tirade against Boehner, or Ryan, but what would that accomplish? It would only be grist for the opposition. Although the Progressives would applaud him, the Conservatives would change their tune from him being “wimpy” to being a “bully”.

    There is nothing that Obama can do that will please everyone. The only thing we can expect from him is that he serves as a bulwark against the real extremists that would dismantle Social Security gut Medicare and on and on.. And so far all these programs are basically intact, and if you think that is not a big deal, then I suggest you allow the Republicans to control the executive and the Democrats reduced to a rear guard obstructionist position.

    Well I don’t know about you but I feel a lot better having a decent, intelligent Democrat in the White House even he isn’t perfect than a Republican oligarch beholden only to corporate America.

    You may have some fun calling Obama a DINO, but you will miss him if he is replaced by a real right-winger.

    • danny grantham says

      Obama is the only sensible choice in my opinion. All the other choices are extremely radical, very similar in theory and only want to trick the public into thinking doing away with government would make things better. On the contrary, it would create ownership and a slave state. America does not have a jobs problem! Our problems lie with manufacturing losses, dishonesty and greed!

  4. says

    Author Randy is correct. DINO Obama merits defeat, but the Goppies will be happy enough to see him re-elected as nominally a Democrat: they will get 95% of what they want, with the Democrats taking the blame. Meanwhile they can cavort with their true loves – the likes of Perry and Bachmann. And moreover, the more Obama plays on with nary an effectual peep from Democrats, the more Perry does have a real chance of being elected. Just recall those who began 1980 by figuring that Reagan was too extreme right to have a chance.

    Commenter daveB too is correct – sort of. Obama did handle the debt crisis ‘perfectly’ – in regards the apparently real objective, namely getting himself re-elected (if the Dems renominate him); as versus the apparently phony nominal objectives, namely helping the survival and prosperity of the USA and the integrity of the Democratic party and agenda.

  5. Ted Vaill says

    A Perry – Bachmann Republican ticket in 2012 would rival Barry Goldwater in 1964. Remember Barry saying at the 1964 convention that “Extremism in defense of patriotism is no vice”? Sounds a lot like what comes out of Perry’s mouth, and Bachmann’s. Perry is an “Aggie joke”, and Bachmann is the most illustrious graduate of Oral Roberts Law School.

  6. daveB says

    If Obama’s mishandling of the debt ceiling crisis was what made Rick Perry enter the race, and the Perry/Bachmann dream ticket is what’s going to prevent Romney from getting the nomination, and if Romney was the Republican candidate who could beat Obama, and if Perry/Bachmann is doomed to lose, then Obama handled the debt crisis perfectly. Have I followed your reasoning accurately, Randy?

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